News & Resources

15 Feb 2019

Glenn’s Take: DistribuTECH 2019

by: Glenn Milnes

Key themes from the show:

  • Utilities are seeking answers, not products.
  • Utilities are innovating.
  • Having a Digital Twin of assets in the field matters.

Every January or February, the IKE team hits the road for a week. Our destination: DistribuTECH. As one of the largest conferences in utilities, DistribuTECH was attended by, over 12,000 people from 75 countries in 2019. People from 327 utilities and 576 vendors descend on the host city to network and learn about what is happening in the world of power distribution.

In 2019, the show was hosted in New Orleans. So, armed with a new brand, website, and uniforms, we headed down South for another stimulating annual visit to DistribuTECH. Our goal: to speak with customers and to gauge the pulse of the industry more broadly. I was delighted by the quality of conversations that the IKE team was engaged in, the reception to our message around enhancing network hardening initiatives, and broader recognition of IKE at the show.

It is always super interesting to hear the key themes each year. In an industry as steady as utilities, I am amazed at how the themes change year over year. While one conference is not perfectly indicative of the industry, looking at the key themes can give a good read on how IKE is positioning itself in relation to the rest of the industry. My key observations of the focus for this year were:

Utilities are Seeking Answers

It quickly became clear that Utilities are more and more seeking answers, outcomes, and having their problems solved by vendors end-to-end, rather than seeking technology and products to acquire. So, there is an increasing shift to a greater outsource model for non-core activities. The shift makes sense and let’s a utility be more nimble around core competencies. We have seen it up close as our existing customers move beyond purchasing devices and ask us to perform more of the process using IKE Analyze.

Innovation for Utilities

There was strong focus on innovation for the utilities, and mechanisms to assess options to revisit the recipe within the traditional business model. This was refreshing conversation, but surprising given some of the challenges & events over the past 12 months. With damage from storms and fires, I’d assumed the discussion would be more ‘risk off, safety on’ at DistribuTECH.

Digital Twin was a buzz phrase again

The IKE Record has always been a digital twin of an asset in the field. This year we really pushed that message. It was great to see that resonate with the industry again. The difference in 2019 came from our recently introduced ability to provide that digital twin with even less work for the customer, thanks to IKE Analyze.

(Here’s a video from the show of Mike McGill speaking about the IKE Digital Twin)

I left DistribuTECH with no shortage of optimism for IKE given these themes. With the announcement of IKE Analyze, we have put ourselves in the position to account for all three of these themes.

The focus on core competency provides an opportunity for prepared suppliers like IKE to deliver more value and build longer term relationships. As IKE transitions IKE Analyze, our full stack solution model, we are in an excellent position to help utilities innovate with a solution that provides a digital twin and offers a complete answer to the questions they have about their poles.

In short, as utilities act on these themes, IKE Analyze is the obvious choice, and the IKE Record will continue to set the highest standard of record for a utility pole.

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